There are at least two ways to read Bible, though in truth there are probably many more. As I was running today I thought about the way I used to read the Bible versus the way I try to read the Bible now.
Method 1: Reading the Bible to Justify My Life
This method is all about coming to Scripture with preconceived notions and asking God to change in order to suit you. This was the way I read the Bible before I entered recovery and the way I am tempted to read it now. It’s a natural human tendency to look for things in our environment which justify our chosen lifestyles…and what we look for, we will find. For example, if I needed to believe my sex addiction wasn’t all that bad I would read select verses from the Old Testament which discussed men with multiple wives, those who possessed concubines, or those who committed adultery and ‘got away with it’, and feel comforted. Or I might read only the parts of the New Testament which mentioned God’s grace and skip over the parts which mentioned His judgment. I only opened the Bible when I was feeling guilty about something, and I closed it as soon as I found what I was looking for.
Method 2: Reading the Bible to Shape My Life
This method is the polar opposite of Method 1. With this method I try to empty my mind of everything I think I know, and ask God to show me what He knows. I try to leave behind all the preconceptions about how my life should b, and ask the author of life to show me instead. When my preconceptions butt up against Scripture I try to assume that God is more correct than I am. Sadly, this is easier said than done. There is some part of me, perhaps my Ego, which fights frantically to hold on to my old ideas when I find that God and I disagree. I think this is the slow, painful process of dying to myself. It’s the process of allowing God to change me one small piece at a time rather than waiting for God to change Himself and/or His standards. These days I try not to read Scripture one verse at a time, looking only for a quick answer. Instead I try to read the Bible one book at a time, from the first chapter to the last in one sitting, and let God’s Word take hold in my heart.
I hope you struggle as hard as I do to live by Method 2, because if you are I suspect you are on the correct path, the narrow path, which leads to eternal life.